Van Felter was our guest for over a month after receiving a stem cell transplant to treat his acute leukemia at UAMS Cancer Institute. His story reminds us how strong families can become when they face difficult times together. We are so grateful to provide families with a home to gather, care for each other, and to remember what is most important in life.
Van had been working in Crossett, Arkansas, for over 20 years as an electrician when his life suddenly began to change. He was let go from one job he had held for many years. Thankfully, he was able to immediately find another job with a different company that was just across the street. A few months later, however, he was diagnosed with leukemia. After a long year and ten rounds of chemotherapy, it finally went into remission–only to come back four and a half months later. This is when Van’s medical team recommended him for a stem cell transplant.
While waiting for the next steps at a doctor’s appointment, Van and his sister, Holly, discovered she was a perfect match to donate her stem cells. “I was so blessed to have that news that there would be less chance for the transplant to have complications,” Van explains. “To have my sister be such a perfect match was a blessing from God.”
Van told us that there weren’t many panic moments during this experience because he had someone from his family with him the whole time, but finding a place to stay to recover was a stressful experience for him. “I was stressing about where I would stay in Little Rock for the transplant,” Van says. “I found out about Goodness Village from my UAMS social worker. She emailed a list of places, but I was overwhelmed by the list. Finally, I went back for another appointment, and she gave me a brochure from Goodness Village. I called and talked to Carol and knew instantly this was where I was going to stay. Being able to have two bedrooms that gave a little privacy was great for having my family coming and going. I have felt very taken care of. The staff has always asked if I need anything from the store or help with anything.”
Van was away from home for 70 days. The longest it has ever been for him. His girlfriend, sister, daughter, and father all came to Little Rock to care for him throughout this experience at different times, each able to stay at the Goodness Village apartment with him. Van expresses so much gratitude for his family being there for him like that. And that family extends into the community of Crossett, who came together to have a t-shirt drive to help cover the costs of his stay.
“In the past, you’d get caught up in the hustle and bustle,” Van tells us. “But, I feel like God sends you signs. When this stuff starts happening, you start to pay attention. You start reliving moments that bring you peace. One of those moments will be when I got to take my daughter up to Petit Jean to that big overlook on the river just the other day since having my transplant.”
Van’s spirit has continued to shine throughout this difficult time in his life. We have been honored to serve him and his family by providing a place to rest, recover, and be thankful for the time spent with family and loved ones.